Many women, who have experienced difficulties in conceiving, give birth and think they don’t need to worry about contraception anymore. Then suddenly, they find themselves pregnant again, having conceived naturally, even if they’ve undergone IVF. This is exactly what happened to IVF patient and mother of four, Rose Evans, who conceived naturally just four months after giving birth to her third child.
Whilst using contraception after needing help to conceive may sound contradictory, President of Family Planning NSW and Sydney IVF gynaecologist, Dr Devora Lieberman, says unless a woman is sterile, or completely infertile, there is always a chance she will conceive naturally. “I never say never! Given enough time, a woman may conceive if her chance of getting pregnant is not zero.”
According to Dr Lieberman, there are varying degrees of fertility which can reduce the monthly chance of pregnancy. “We find that problems in conceiving arise when there’s a major reproductive condition such as blocked fallopian tubes, a very low sperm count or when several mild causes are found, especially in combinations. Male-factor infertility accounts for about 40% of cases¹ but male fertility testing from Fertility Plus can provide help. Also, in around 20% of cases, an obvious reason for infertility cannot be established².”
Dr Lieberman also said she was aware of cases in which women have had IVF cycles or an IVF baby, yet a subsequent child was conceived naturally. “As these couples did not realise the importance of using birth control post-baby, the result – another baby sooner rather than later – has had a significant impact on their lives.”
Mother of four, Rose Evans, 43, is one case on point.
For Rose the road to motherhood was not a smooth journey. She has had eight pregnancies including two IVF cycles and four miscarriages – one prior to the birth of each of her children, who were finally conceived naturally. “I’m proof that when it comes to reproduction, you never know how things will turn out,” she said.
“My second husband and I wanted to expand our family beyond the two children we had at the time, but didn’t realise how difficult it would be. We tried for several years to have a baby and during that time, even the IVF cycles led to miscarriage. It was devastating. Then almost nine years after my second child, I had another, which was soon followed by my last child.”
Between her third and fourth child, Rose did not use any form of contraception thinking that achieving pregnancy again would be impossible.
“We so desperately wanted another child and I was very aware that my body was getting older. However, I was shocked to fall pregnant just four months after having my third child; had I been using contraception I would have been able to ‘space out’ my children. While I was overjoyed at that pregnancy, I was concerned about having another child so soon but, clearly, it was not meant to be, as sadly, I miscarried,” she said.
Two months after her fourth miscarriage, Rose was pregnant again with her last child which she carried to full term and is now an active 2½ year old.
“When it comes to contraception, it’s also important for women to canvass their options. When I was younger, I took the pill and now that I have a different schedule with four active kids I’m seeking other options that fit around my lifestyle,” said Rose.
Dr Lieberman says, “Should a couple seek medical help to achieve pregnancy, it’s wise they consider the need for contraception at an appropriate stage, especially after birth. I’d recommend women see their GP, local family planning clinic or visit educational websites for more information on contraception.”
For more information on contraception visit www.whatcontraceptiveareyou.com.au
For more information on IVF visit www.sydneyivf.com
1.Lippincott Williams, Wilkins, Professional Guide to Diseases, 2005
2.M Sara Rosenthal, The Thyroid Sourcebook, 2008
Main photo credit: ZTS – Fotolia.com